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Domestic Sewing Machines

Company History


Mack's Patent High Arm

This is William Mack's May 19, 1863 patent with his revolutionary design for a vibrating shuttle machine with high arm. The patent covered the 'throw' of the shuttle, construction of shuttle and shuttle race and the means of driving the feed wheel. Looking at the under view the design is quite different from later Mack versions. It has a curved shuttle race. The shuttle was 2" long and 1/2" in diameter.

Comparison of under views of successive patents.

Shuttles & Bobbins

May be useful for dating, but note that old style machines can be fitted with the latest style shuttles adapted for old carriers; or with the latest shuttles of the regular make, and a carrier to suit.

For new style carrier the shuttles have a nick in the point; for old carrier they are without the nick. In other respects they are alike.

The manufacture of springs for shuttles continued after the manufacture of cylinders had ceased.

Three kinds of bobbins were made. The old style is used in No. 1 shuttle. All other shuttles use the new bobbin. They differ at ends of spindles.

Domestic High Arm Fiddlebase

Serial #203633

Courtesy of Kelly Pakes

To use the tucker: "With the large japanned thumb-screw up through the hole in the table-extension, attach the "Domestic" tucker, the creasing-edge at the left of the needle, and slightly before it."

Domestic High Arm Fiddlebase

Serial #1558824

Courtesy of Kelly Pakes

The machine has a high serial number (on slide plate) indicating late manufacture and the design of the machine with its curious take-up arrangement appears to be based on the Canadian George A Annett's patent of 1888. Although his patent covered a rotary machine, it has a similar "wide thread support or guide". No name is given to the shape or style of take-up mechanism, which resembles a tennis racket.


Domestic High Arm Fiddlebase Cabinets

Early Domestic High Arm

Serial #48692

Courtesy of Kelly Pakes

Last patent date of 1871.

Domestic High Arm (Mother of Pearl)

Serial 74118

Courtesy of Scott

This Mother of Pearl machine with Fancy Legged treadle would have been one of Domestic's top of the range models. The style of top tension mounting is more elaborate, but it has the same simple leaf tension as earlier models. It also has an early shuttle with removable "shuttle end piece".

Domestic High Arm

Serial #74513

Courtesy of John

This is the early Domestic with a more rectangular bed than later models and a simple bobbin winder. The serial number is located on the front slide plate and the stitch length regulator is a knob to the rear of the pillar. This particular machine has a broken top leaf tension and the treadle top is new.

Domestic A

This hand crank version was more popularly sold in Europe than in the USA and was set up as both a treadle and handcrank combination. This early Domestic used a distinctive stitch length regulator.

Domestic B

Courtesy of Claire Sherwell

Manufactured after the mid 1880s. This hand machine was originally marketed as the improved "Reliable". The word Reliable is on the inside of the pillar. The stitch length control is to the rear of the pillar, pointed needle bar, simple bobbin winder.

Machine Nos. 12 to 15, of which this model is one, had a machine head "smaller than those of our Large Family Machine, being about the size of the Singer, but they are good machines in all respects".

Serial #149164

Courtesy of John Snell

Rounded needle bar. Automatic bobbin winder (the company's description). Serial number on the slide plate.

Domestic D

Serial #204604

Courtesy of Kelly Pakes

This model incorporates Stephen A Davis' tension device, the patent filing date of March 29, 1909 on the slide plate refers, but it was not granted until January 9, 1912. Last patent noted on slide plate is dated October 24, 1910, but there is a 'patent pending' by the name Domestic D.

Stephen Davis had been associated with the owners of Domestic since the 1870s. Serial number stamped on rim of machine bed under slide plate.


Machines badged with the name "Franklin" were supplied to Sears, Roebuck for sale, first appearing the in fall of 1911. An example from that date featured in Charles Law's book has manual tension release. The "Sit Right" cabinet was introduced in the Spring 1916 catalog. The model has Scarab beetles in the decals in the same vein as Singer's Lotus decals and undoubtedly the model competed with Singer's models 27 and 127. The stitch length is adjusted by a screw and the bobbin winder is low. The treadle belt threads around the outside of the balance wheel.

Singer's 127 with automatic tension release and automatic shuttle eject was introduced in 1912 (shuttle eject was patented by Singer on October 10, 1911, having been applied for in 1910).

Serial 469723

Courtesy of Bob

This machine has an automatic tension, with shuttle eject, yet a low bobbin winder, so it has comparable features of the Singer 27 and of the newly introduced Singer 127 (see Singer's Vibrating Shuttle Machines).

It has a plain cabinet, so is likely to date to the mid 1920s. It may have been after White's take over of the company.

"Franklin" Attachments

Courtesy of Kelly Pakes

Griest attachments for use with Franklin machines. They are low shank attachments and the hemmers attach to the bed.

Domestic - Made in Japan

Domestic Model 164

Courtesy of Dan

Serial #13788, J-C 34

Light grey with white top and white hinged face plate. This is an oscillating hook machine, sewing straight stitch with reverse, taking a low straight shank foot and a 'one o’clock' bobbin case. It has a three position feed dog.

This machine was made in Japan, under the ownership of White who took over Domestic in 1924.

Other markings: U9L22 under rear edge of bed plate (middle), HF under bed plate on pillar end. The shuttle is stamped with the usual J-G 4 and the bobbin case has the usual J-H 3.

A small metal tag screwed onto pillar underneath the motor mount reads –

Designed, Engineered, and Guaranteed by

Domestic Sewing Machines

Cleveland, Ohio Toronto, Canada

Made in Japan

There is a round sticker on the inside face of the pillar that reads - "Approved for Electrical Safety, City of Los Angeles, Dept. of Building & Safety" and has the number KK039390 across the middle.